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What Is a Waste Management System?

A waste management facility typically handles recycling.
Trash collection is part of a waste management system.
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  • Written By: Klaus Strasser
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2014
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A waste management system typically refers to a specific technique, strategy, or device used to treat waste materials. This may include the collection, transportation, recycling, disposal, or processing of waste. The use of waste management systems varies according to both the kinds of waste material to be treated and the aims of the treatment itself. In general, waste management systems attempt to curb waste for reasons such as public health threats, environmental concerns, or the general appearance of a location.

The term waste generally entails an unwanted or unusable material that is deliberately discarded by its users. Classifications of different types of waste include human waste, industrial waste, hazardous waste, or biodegradable waste. Specific definitions of waste have been written into law by organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), in order to effectively classify waste and minimize the environmental, social, or economic negatives that the neglect of waste management may cause.

Waste management systems vary according to social, cultural, and technological norms. In industrialized countries, there typically are standard strategies for the treatment of waste. Waste management systems such as landfills attempt to bury waste underground or separate waste within the confines of an enclosed area. Incineration burns waste material using high temperatures, and can also be used to convert the combusted waste into usable energy sources.

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Recycling is a common waste management strategy. It can be used for both environmental and social benefits. A recycling waste management system may be as simple as specifically marked bins intended for disposal of recyclable materials. These colored bins commonly are found in most Western countries.

A waste management system also can be conceived as a strategy for avoiding or reducing wastes. These types of systems are preventative and look to control the production of waste. Legal restrictions may limit the industrial production of waste by factories. The introduction into the public consciousness of ecologically beneficially behaviors in order to produce a greener world also is an example of a waste management system, such as the phrase, "reduce, reuse, recycle."

Hazardous waste requires its own specific waste management systems according to the potential public and environmental health dangers they may cause. These waste management systems are relative to the type of hazardous waste being treated. They incorporate concepts such as incinerators or recycling for clean up.

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Discuss this Article

Valencia
Post 3

Until recently I had no idea that fluorescent light tubes and energy-saving light bulbs are included in a hazardous waste management system!

There are bins near the recycling area of my apartment complex, marked for these items, along with several signs warning tenants not to throw them away anywhere else.

Acracadabra
Post 2

@MissMuffet - It's great to hear that your company are looking to expand their waste management program. Mine introduced this idea a while back so I can pass on some tips.

The most obvious idea concerns reducing electricity consumption. This can be done by not using lights unless needed, or setting the air conditioner a little higher than you usually do.

Then of course there's the usual recycling bins which many offices and factories may install around the eating areas. (I think maybe you have those in place already.)

The best idea I can pass on came from the waste management service we hired to advise on this issue. They suggested choosing suppliers who package items with the least possible cardboard and plastic possible.

When we put the tender out this was a stipulation, and the response was very positive. it shows that waste management can be recycling, or taking proactive steps to reduce our eco footprint.

MissMuffet
Post 1

My company introduced a strict waste management system last year, which is working well now.

There were a few hiccups at the start, especially with trying to recycle paper through the photocopier. It took some people a while to remember to sort it so the blank sides were all facing the same way!

Last week the boss asked for suggestions for more things we can do but I'm a bit stumped. If I don't contribute to this project I'll look bad, so any innovative ideas would be great.

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